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F*ck you Banana

Museum Link:

Source Link:*ck-you-banana-5930

Date Minted:  December 9, 2019

Artist Description: An homage to the King of Trolls. I must confess I have never understood modern "art", but I do understand trolling. Where is the line? Is it just about money?  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

I’m not totally sure how to put Skeenee’s style into words. Admittedly, I’m only looking at the artist’s SuperRare output, but there is within this collection of works a number of competing spirits, subjects, and compositional styles. I suppose you could say there’s a tattooist’s sensibility at play here, something that’s communicated to me via the often thick lines, the washed out colors, the centralized subjects and their hand-drawn nature. But any semblance of a cohesive style is balanced out by brief, sometimes entirely-unique forays into unlike styles. There’s the 3-part A Fiery Romance series of pieces, each of them animated with fire effects over abstractly-colored, heavily-painted subjects. Or the photographic Burn Copycats. Most of Skeenee’s other pieces centralize birds as their subjects, small songbirds of varying colors, placed within circular backgrounds. And then there are two pieces from early on in Skeenee’s creation here, of which the piece before us today, F*ck you Banana, is one. These black-and-white pieces are oriented ala Lichtenstein, with an old comic book’s many dots filling in the texture of the subjects. Both feature bananas. They are the only two pieces Skeenee has created which are devoid of non-grey-scale color.  But it’s more than a matter of compositional unlikeness. There are so many varying levels of seriousness in this oeuvre. The birds have a lightness to them, and demonstrate the pervasive lightness within Skeenee’s work. Other pieces display a sardonic quality. F*ck you Banana belongs to this camp. There’s an existentialist Skeenee and a lustful Skeenee too. To codify all those versions of self throughout only 24 minted artworks is mighty impressive. Still, F*ck you Banana contains a few different versions of Skeenee all smushed together. The sardonic and the outraged, the impressed and the inspired, the silly and the serious, all are here between the dots. 

Like most of Skeenee’s pieces, F*ck you Banana is lightly-animated in a way that never distracts from or obscures the central subject, but just slightly augments it. In this case, by raining bills upon an emblem of the art world’s pretension.

F*ck you Banana references the infamous Art Basel banana from 2019. The actual “piece,” titled Comedian, is “by” artist Maurizio Cattelan. You probably remember it: A banana duct-taped to a white wall and subsequently sold for something in the $120,000 range, if memory serves. I have no problem with conceptual art myself —especially because so much of it serves to troll the exact clientele who would deign to purchase it— but a lot of people seemed to. Comedian was a rallying cry for the “This isn’t art!” crowd. It’s unclear who F*ck you Banana is referencing specifically: Those that take Comedian seriously as artwork or those that don’t. It’s not even clear from the title. Conceivably, F*ck you Banana could be referring to the kind of banana this is, like a Macintosh Apple or a Summer’s Day. Or it could be a diatribe at the banana itself, though lacking the requisite comma between You and Banana in the vein of “Let’s eat, grandma!” Perhaps the title and subject matter and tone are deliberately ambiguous, so that simply knowing about this weird little art-world subplot from 2019 makes you complicit in who the piece is going after.  

And it’s definitely going after someone. Across the top of the piece is the word “Trolling” in big white letters, with a larger silhouetted facsimile of the word floating right behind it, grey instead of white. Some oblong lines and dots of apparent-paint speckle the piece around the other identifiable part of the composition, a washed out and be-dotted image of the banana itself. Every few seconds, a rain of five and 20-dollar bills, mostly crumpled, fall down from the top of the piece to the bottom. 

The Artist Description for the piece reads “An homage to the King of Trolls. I must confess I have never understood modern ‘art’, but I do understand trolling. Where is the line? Is it just about money?” So Skeenee is, I suppose, less interested in guarding his purpose here than I may have believed. F*ck you Banana is both celebratory and indignant at the same time. Celebratory of Cattelan and his desire to, himself, fuck with pretentious art world stalwarts, and indignant at that class of art collector or enthusiast who can be easily manipulated by the whims of what’s cool or expensive that day. I don’t like to get judgmental myself when it comes to modern or conceptual art, but certainly one can see in the 6-figure price tag for edible, expiring “artworks” like Comedian all the worst impulses of wealth. The tone deafness. The lack of empathy. The self aggrandizement. All things Cattelan comments on (and explicitly profits off of), and which Skeenee is immortalizing again today.

There’s an interesting subtextual confluence here as well, that between the original piece of artwork —something which would only physically last a few days at most— and the fact that the artwork has now, courtesyof Skeenee, been merged with the blockchain and given eternal life (for as long as blockchains exist). Why isn’t this piece then worth 120-grand? How much of an artwork’s value is hype? Where is the place for connection, for reflection, for celebration? Or has the whole art world become a joke unwittingly and continuously told? With F*ck you Banana, Skeenee seems less interested in sorting out details, and more interested in calling our attention to this absolute mess. Leaving the requisite clean-up to others with more sympathy for fixing what’s currently broken. 

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